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jpak

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China Cuts Subsidies for Pilot Solar-Power Projects on Declining Costs

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-02/china-cuts-subsidies-for-pilot-solar-projects-on-declining-costs.html

China, the world’s biggest producer of solar panels, cut subsidies for demonstration sun-power projects approved in 2011 and this year after the cost of components declined.

The government reduced the subsidy for projects approved last year by 11 percent to 8 yuan ($1.3) a watt, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement yesterday. It will offer a subsidy of 7 yuan a watt for those that are eligible for the assistance this year.

The subsidy applies only to projects developed by owners who will consume the power for their own use under the so-called Golden Sun program.

The cost of solar panels fell 47 percent last year as Chinese manufacturers increased production, leading to excess capacity after European governments cut back on subsidies. The price declines has led some some companies including Trina Solar Ltd. (TSL) to predict that solar technology is nearing parity with fossil fuels to supply power to national electric grids at a competitive price.

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California solar plans exceed state goals: regulator

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/01/us-solar-california-idUSTRE81001M20120201

The number of proposed solar projects in California last year was 4-1/2 times the level the state needs to meet its 33 percent renewable power target by 2020, a state regulator said on Tuesday.

California is the biggest U.S. solar market, although its share of the new project market has slipped from 80 percent in the middle of the last decade to about a third as other states, such as Arizona, Colorado and New Jersey have stepped up support for renewable energy.

Developers of large, or utility-scale, solar power plants have sought to expand beyond the Golden State, citing the large number of projects under development in California that have filled the state's demand through about 2016.

Still, only about 6 percent of new project proposals last year won approval by the California Public Utilities Commission, commissioner Timothy Alan Simon said at the Solar Power Generation Conference in Las Vegas.

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Falling solar prices good for climate, bad for firms

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/01/climate-solar-prices-idUSL5E8CV3LT20120201

There is a bright side to the plunge in solar panel prices that has brought down some U.S. and German manufacturers which relied too heavily on subsidies for green energy - solar power costs have fallen faster than anyone thought possible.

The falls in prices for photovoltaic components, pushed down by economies of scale and fierce competition from China, have made solar nearly as cheap as conventional sources in Germany's electricity grid.

The boom in Germany, the world's biggest photovoltaic market with 24,000 megawatts of installed capacity, has also helped to drive down costs worldwide, making solar a more viable and accessible alternative to fossil fuels in places ranging from India and the Middle East to Africa and North America.

The unexpectedly rapid drop in global solar prices has nevertheless hit some equipment makers hard - producers like Solyndra in the United States and Solon in Germany that failed to keep pace and ended up in bankruptcy protection.

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Town turns off wind, opts for solar energy (Duxbury, Mass.)

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/02/02/duxbury_turns_off_wind_project_buys_solar_energy_instead/

At a time of accelerating production of both wind and solar energy, Duxbury officials have decided to buy solar energy produced elsewhere and take their own wind project off the table.

“It’s an opportunity to save money,’’ Jim Goldenberg, chairman of the town’s Alternative Energy Committee, said after town selectmen signed a 20-year agreement with a solar energy company that plans to build its facility in Acushnet.

The deal is expected to save the town up to $30,000 a year in energy costs and supply about 25 percent of the energy the town needs to run facilities such as schools, Town Hall, and other buildings, officials say. The producer, Pegasus Renewable Energy Partners LLC of Marstons Mills, has yet to begin construction of the solar farm. It’s expected to take about a year to begin producing power.

Duxbury is also moving ahead on a plan to lease its capped landfill to a private developer, American Capital Energy, a national company whose customers include the Army, to build a solar energy farm there. Town Meeting backed the project last fall.

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